Park 5

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Many fifteen-year-old girls love nature

** Edit: In True “Katie” fashion, I just realized I’ve screwed up the numbering. This is Park 6.

Last Saturday (7/11) was our most ambitious outing to date; a combo – John Bryan State Park/Clifton Gorge Nature Preserve/Yellow Springs/Antioch College.

We had our challenges.

We didn’t quite leave on time and it turns out we didn’t quite know how to get there, so the first third of our day is something I’d rather forget.

But I have to tell you this part.

After an unnecessarily long car trip, we pulled into the parking lot for Clifton Gorge. As the men-folk were putting on their hiking shoes, the ladies investigated the map on the kiosk. Without a “you are here” sticker, it was useless. Plus I was distracted by its companion sign:

I can’t say that’s something I look for in a relaxing hookup with nature. I tried to decipher the map while being bitten repeatedly by one or more mosquitoes who apparently wait to ambush confused, yummy-blooded people like me. I returned to the car disoriented, itchy, and frankly a little scared. I tried to list off my troubles to my husband who only wanted to know whether we were hiking now or moving on. I wanted him to know about how itchy I was. He wanted the bottom line. I wanted him to understand my feelings. Yes, friends, Venus/Mars were readily apparent that morning.

We decided to move on, betting that a main entrance might include a useful map. I grabbed my hiking shoes from the trunk and got back in the car, convincingly arguing that the park entrance in the exact opposite direction of the actual park entrance. So another leg of the journey that should have been about 1/4 mile turned into a circuitous 10 mile odyssey of shame.

But first!

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Snake in the wild!

My husband pulled out from the high crime entrance onto the two-lane state route rapidly as normal. Within moments we heard a car thunk. Then another thunk, then the horrible sound of something important bouncing onto the road behind us.

Being a good and wise parent, I immediately blamed the kids. What did you leave on the car? Bug spray? They looked at me like I had a couple of heads because they were in full possession of all their appointed items.

Terror overcame me.


I don’t think my husband has ever been happier about marrying me than when he pulled off the rural highway so we could look for my phone that I left somewhere on the outside of the car.

I took off on foot  with him yelling after me, “Put on your shoes!”

I spotted my phone in the road as some cars were approaching. It would have been pure Hollywood Poetry if one of them had smoked it right in front of me in slow motion, but no. They passed, I retrieved it and it’s FINE. I can’t believe it.

A little scuffed on the top right corner, but I guess at this point I ought to give a shout out to the Magpul Industries Galaxy S4 Field Case.

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It works.

As I jogged back to the car, my right unshoed heel landed on a rock. This thought ran through my mind:

I don’t care if that bastard is embedded in my heel. There’s no way I’m telling those three that we have to cancel the hike because I was running down the highway without shoes on looking for my phone.

You know that expression about how the important part is the journey and not the destination?

We (eventually) got to the park, put on the mosquito spray, found a useful map, and thanks to a friendly and chatty hippy who wandered out of the woods, were able to hone our hiking plan.

It was gorgeous – the Little Miami was bombastic due to all the rain (the most in 144 years, sorry California). There were caves, moss-covered rock walls, waterfalls, and just so much green. As the old expression goes, the park looked like a cover of a Bunnymen album.

After a couple of hours in the woods, we headed into the interesting town of Yellow Springs, which boasts of a robust busking community on its website linked at the top of this post.

Seriously, it’s a progressive mecca smack dab in the John Cougar Mellancamp kind of heartland. Unexpected and quirky, this cool little city is teeming with artisans and2015-07-11 13.31.35 hippies both new and wizened. After eating at Ha Ha Pizza (the server appeared to be transgendered), we toured the storied Antioch campus. My daughter has been casually looking at college campuses and this seemed like an important stop.

You can read about Antioch in the link at the top of the page – it’s a complicated place that I think appeals to a specific type of student.  I don’t think she’s in that subset, but we gathered good information for the database.

Funny aside – we walked over to what looked like the campus football field, but it appears as if they’ve turned their sports facilities into a solar farm. My son was mortified.

That pretty much sums up the college visit. Great to know it’s there; probably not the place for my kids.

A day full of memories and microcosm. One for the record books.

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